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You could lose your shirt

Since the introduction of the Companies Act 2006, Companies House have begun to get really tough. In at least 1 instance I've heard about a company's bank account has been shut down because the director failed to file a £15 form at Companies House.

By shut down, I mean closed to ANY transactions - customers not able to pay, standing orders and direct debits and cheques bounced. It's the nightmare scenario for any business owner. Actually it could be worse - you might have given the bank a personal guarantee for the overdraft and the bank might - as well as closing your account - then come looking for you to clear the balance.

So where was the company director when all this was going on?

On holiday in Spain, having a whale of a time,little realising what was happening back at the ranch.

Companies House always had the ability to be tough-ish but in the good old days you could manage not to file your Annual Return - that's what all this is about - for sometimes a year before anything serious might happen to you.

Yes, they do send out a reminder - just one so if you misplace it or forget it, the next reminder you get is that your company will be struck off if you take no action. After that, the next stage is to publish a notice in the Gazette (in Scotland) or Stubbs (in England & Wales) giving notice of the impending striking off. That's the point your bank manager gets to hear about it and often by the time he or she does, your account has already been closed.

So whether or not you've got money in the account, how do you pay wages or suppliers?

The Annual Return is as its name suggests an annual document. So here's what to do to avoid pain and misery:

  • Check your company details on Companies House website NOW
  • Add the next Annual Return due date (which you can find on their website) to your calendar. The notice to file a return comes out before you are legally able to file it and this is the first reason it is easy to forget to file it.
  • Request an electronic filing code now so that when the time comes you can get the job done super fast

The only slight drawback is no matter how organised you are, you can't submit the return before its made up to date - usually the anniversary of your date of incorporation. One company director told me that when he received the initial notice, he prepared and got together all of the information he needed and because he couldn't file it at that stage, then forgot about it, thinking that as he had "done" all the work for it, that it had been filed!

It all sounds like, "Well it would never happen to me!", doesn't it........

If you're not sure how to complete the return you could ask Companies House or your accountant.

Our Company Secretarial Service which includes handling your Annual Return is outlined here.

Whoever you get to do it - just get it done on time or you might be feeling the sun or rain on your back sooner than you think!

JohnF

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